Exertions should be made to enhance China's abilities to combat flooding and drought and to distribute water resources, taking the advantage of the government's decision to increase spending in water conservancy projects.
Vice Premier Hui Liangyu made the remarks at the national water resources work conference held from Tuesday to Wednesday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
He said the country's capabilities of water and soil resources conservation should also be intensified.
Hui stressed that water conservancy was the important infrastructure for modern agriculture and support to biological conservation.
He noted that priority should be given to water conservancy projects that would benefit the people directly and with the immediate effect.
Mechanisms that are conducive to developing water resources in a scientific and sustainable way should be built, according to Hui.
He said measures should be taken to speed up construction of water resources infrastructure, harness smaller rivers and improve soil erosion control. Safe and reliable drinking water should be provided for more rural residents, dangerous reservoirs should be repaired and fortified, and water-efficiency projects should be built, Hui added.
Water Resources Minister Chen Lei said at the conference that in 2008 China began to provide safe drinking water for an additional 48.24 million rural people. This year, another 60 million rural residents would get access to reliable drinking water.
At the end of 2000, it was difficult for 379 million rural dwellers nationwide to get safe drinking water.
Between 2000 and 2008, the water resources ministry said, China spent 61.8 billion yuan (US$9.04 billion) to provide 160 million rural people with safe drinking water.
(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2009)